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Weekly Tip: The Music of the Holidays

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Holiday music can be heard everywhere starting in November and carrying through January. For many people, listening to holiday favorites and going to musical recitals and concerts is a major part of the holiday season.

What music is a part of your holiday? What about your ancestors? Most of us are familiar with the holiday classics, but what about other songs that may have been sung in years past?

The Archive of Popular American Music is from the University of California, Los Angeles, which is described as follows: “The UCLA Music Library’s Archive of Popular American Music is a research collection covering the history of popular music in the United States from 1790 to the present.”  Two pieces of their Christmas music include What did Adam give Eve for Christmas? and Good Mister Santa Claus Bring Back Mamma. You can read the heartbreaking lyrics of Good Mister Santa Claus here .

Through the Library of Congress American memory website, there is a collection of 19th century sheet music entitled “Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885 .” Included in this collection of over 47,000 pieces of sheet music is “Ten Christmas Carols for 1884 .” Songs in this sheet music booklet are Hark, The Christmas Bells, The Babe of Bethlehem, Christmas Bells, Morn is Breaking, What Child is This?, Waken Christian Children, Merry Christmas, Behold the Star, Christmas Carol and Glorious, Beauteous.

Other collections of sheet music can be found through the New York Public Library Music Division.

Sometimes people have used music as a way to tell stories of Christmas past. One example is the song, Christmas in the Trenches, by John McCutcheon that details the 1914 Christmas truce of World War I. To see these lyrics, click here.

Want to listen to some older Christmas tunes? Check out the website Old Christmas Tree Lights: Christmas Music. This website has digital recording of Christmas songs from the early 1900s that you can listen to on your computer. You can hear Silent Night sung in German as well as English. Familiar songs and not so familiar songs are here.

Family History Expo Blogger of Honor and speaker, Jean Wilcox Hibben, has blogged about Christmas music here and here.  Jean writes about music on her blog Circlemending.

My favorite Christmas song is one that I rarely hear but is based on a Polish carol and is called Stars were Gleaming. To see the words to this song, click here . You can hear an instrumental of the song here .


Hey Santa!

What better Christmas gift than the gift of going to an Expo? Check out our schedule at

The December Family History Expos Newsletter gave incorrect dates for the St. George Expo. The Expo will take place February 25-26, 2011.

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